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Mercy Health announces home-buying assistance grants

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    Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, descend the front steps of her home on Boston Place Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 in Toledo.

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    Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, talk with Matt Sapara, vice president of real estate, economic development, and community relations for Mercy Health, left, and Jeff Dempsey, president of Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center and Children's Hospital at her Thursday, Nov. 9.

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    Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, stand on the porch of their home on Boston Place Thursday, Nov. 9 in Toledo.

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    Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, listen as Tom Kroma, director of development for Mercy Health, talks about a new housing funding program Thursday, Nov. 9.

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    Tom Kroma, director of development for Mercy Health, talks about a new housing funding program Thursday, Nov.r 9.

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    Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, stand inside their home on Boston Place Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 in Toledo.

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Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, stand on the porch of their home on Boston Place Thursday, Nov. 9 in Toledo.

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A new Mercy Health Foundation program will provide grants worth up to $5,000 to buy homes in the Cherry Street Legacy neighborhoods surrounding Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, the health system announced Thursday. 

The Mercy Health Employee Assisted Housing Program offers funding to employees in good standing of the health system, Toledo police, fire, or public schools, or employees of Central Catholic High School. 

The goal is to foster healthy neighborhoods through home ownership in the central city, said Tom Kroma, Mercy Health’s director of economic development. St. Vincent and Children’s Hospital have about 2,800 employees; about 260 currently reside in the immediate area, Mr. Kroma said. 

“Our goal of the program is to boost those numbers and be able to promote home ownership,” he said. “A lot of times that is the key and fabric to these neighborhoods.”

The foundation is providing the grants in a two-year funding cycle, with $80,000 available the first year for loans that are forgiven if owners stay in the home for at least five years, Mr. Kroma said. A total of $158,800 is available over two years. 

Mercy Health officials announced the program on the front steps of Kristina Burgard’s Boston Place home, which she bought in June as the first recipient of the funding. 

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Kristina Burgard and her daughter Marinn Hunsinger, 4, listen as Tom Kroma, director of development for Mercy Health, talks about a new housing funding program Thursday, Nov. 9.

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Ms. Burgard, 46, has worked for Mercy Health for 26 years and is a first-time homeowner. Owning a home has meant stability for her and 4-year-old daughter, Marinn Hunsinger.

“It’s so much better knowing I have something solid that I can pass on to her,” she said, gesturing to her daughter, who excitedly bounced around fully bedecked in Batman attire. “Buying a home was really most about providing security for this one right here.”

Ms. Burgard loves that they can have pets, make changes to the home, and live free of noisy apartment neighbors. It’s a three-minute walk to her job as a clinical research lab coordinator.

“Just to be able to come in here, make it ours, and come home every day and be comfortable,” she said.

They were so excited to move in that they slept in the house the first night after closing on it, she said. 

Extending the offer to employees of the public schools, Central Catholic, and Toledo police and fire is a way to further partnerships with community institutions, said Matt Sapara, vice president of real estate, economic development, and community relations for Mercy Health Toledo.

“We want to thank them for their contributions to the community; there is incredible work being done every day,” he said. “We also want to introduce a level of income stability to the neighborhood.”

Homes in neighborhoods bounded by Cherry Street, Collingwood Boulevard, Ashland Avenue, and Bancroft Street, or Cherry Street, Delaware Avenue, Locust Street, and Bancroft Street, as well as Bronson Boulevard and Birckhead Place, are eligible.

“To be able to take a couple-minute walk over to the hospital, or for a Central Catholic teacher to walk to school, it’s that close proximity that helps build the fabric of the neighborhood,” Mr. Kroma said.

There are no income restrictions for the funding. Property owners who already live in the eligible neighborhoods can apply for $2,500 facade improvement grants.

Those interested can contact Mr. Kroma at tbkroma@mercy.com or 419-251-2851.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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